Bankruptcy or Debt Settlement: Legal Solutions to Unmanageable Debts

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014 in Bankruptcy | 0 comments

Being weighed down by debts is a stressful and worry-filled life to live. Major changes in one’s financial situation due to the economy, which greatly affects his/her financial circumstances, can only result to unpaid bills that continue to accrue interests. Despite that fact that no individual can lose his/her rights as a consumer, failure to pay bills (for at least six months) will render the amount owed as bad debt and the debtor, incurring negative credit.

Consulting with a highly-qualified bankruptcy lawyer when things go financially out of hand would be one advisable move. He or she will inform you of the different legal solutions that will help solve your financial woes, whether as an individual or a business owner. Your lawyer may advise you to file for debt settlement, which can render all of your debts or a part of these forgiven and erased by your creditor/s. Or you may be advised to file for bankruptcy, which may also erase some debts, allow you to liquidate your assets/properties to pay these off or which may give you enough time (three to five years) to pay your creditors.

Whatever you will be wisely advised to file for, here are some of the advantages or disadvantages of these options:

Debt Settlement: you will still have to pay your debts, but which has already been reduced to more than half (sometimes, debts are forgiven altogether). The advantages of debt settlement include:

  • No need to file for bankruptcy, which means less impact your credit report and no need to file and attend any time-consuming litigation processes which is part of the bankruptcy procedure
  • You can make a single, lump sum payment to your creditor/s, saving you from further worries over monthly payment dues (and interests)
  • Upon filing of debt settlement, a letter will be sent by your lawyer to your creditors, asking them to stop all forms of collection and harassment from debt collectors
  • You will never have to worry about lawsuits that may put a lien on any of your properties, put a levy on your savings account or have your wages garnished

The disadvantages associated with debt settlement include:

  • A decline in your credit score, but which is already a result of non-payment of debts for at least six months, maybe long before you file for the settlement
  • The need to pay taxes due to the amount forgiven by your creditor/s (if forgiven amount exceeds $600). This is called the cancellation-of-debt (COD) income.

Bankruptcy, on the other hand, is a legal declaration of the incapability to pay debts, personal or business loans. Filing for bankruptcy will, like debt settlement, also stop creditors from further attempting   payment collections or filing lawsuits to have control over your properties, have your salary garnished or levy your bank account. This also means end of calls and notices from law firms, which are intended to harass you until you decide to pay.

There are different chapters of the bankruptcy law, each designed according to a debtor’s financial situation. These include:

  • Chapter 7 – this law involves asset liquidation to enable payment of debts
  • Chapter 11 –  also known as business reorganization
  • Chapter 13 – involves debt repayment based on a three-year or five-year repayment proposal
  • Chapter 12 – which is specifically designed for families of farmers and fisherman (who own the whole or more than 50% of the farming/ fishing business) with a regular annual income
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Domestic Violence Bill in Texas

Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Divorce, Domestic Violence | 0 comments

The growing number of domestic violence cases in the state prompted Texas lawmakers to pass a bill that would track repeat offenders and make it available online.

The Domestic Violence Registry, presented as House Bill 21 to the Texas House of Representatives and co-authored by State Representatives Jason Villalba and Trey Martinez Fischer, has passed muster. While it may be too late for thrice-victimized family members, the registry will be a valuable resource for people who may be considering becoming involved with these offenders once it is enacted.

Domestic violence is perhaps one of the most disturbing of all offenses, because it involves inflicting pain and suffering on family members. According to the website of the BB Law Group PLLC, victims of domestic violence are primarily spouses, but children also fall prey to abusive family members. Domestic violence is defined in the Texas Family Code Section 71.004 as the threat or actual inflicting of bodily injury, physical harm, sexual assault or assault on a member of the household.  According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, in excess of 177,000 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2011. Of these 40% was directed at a spouse, 16% against a child, and 44% against other members of the household.

The registry may also be a convincing piece of evidence against the offending spouse in child custody, spousal support and protective order issues in divorce cases. It is essential that access of the offender to children in a divorce is restricted. Moreover, victims of domestic violence are dependent on the offender for their financial support, so the process of divorce would present a hardship for the family. Judges consider the fact of domestic violence in their awarding of spousal support.

Divorce cases involving domestic violence are extremely complex; there are many legal considerations when settling major issues such as child custody and spousal support in Texas. Consult with a domestic violence lawyer specializing in divorce cases to increase the chances of getting a fair and just divorce settlement.

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Facts on Car Accidents in Virginia

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Car Accidents, Drunk Driving, Personal Injury | 0 comments

Compiling statistics on car accidents is a way of keeping track of whatever progress (or lack of) there is in improving road and driving safety in a particular at a specific time. For example, it can be deduced that there is no statistical difference in road safety between 2011 and 2012 because there was only 2.54% more crashes in 2012 than 2011, but it also meant that 11 more people are no longer walking around.

Statistics also show that a significantly higher number of persons were injured in 2012 compared to 2011 by 5.7% but that fewer people had a blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or greater than .08 (3.95% decrease), and fewer people were killed from DUI car accidents (decrease of 6.53%). However, more people were injured in DUI car accidents (increase of 7.25%) and 1.98% more were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of which more than 75% male. The average BAC for those convicted of DUI was 0.1397 or approaching double the legal limit.

What do these numbers mean? Prospects of improved road safety in Virginia are not good for a variety of reasons, although there seems to be some impact of the DUI awareness programs. Even though fewer people were killed, more people were injured, and the medical costs average to about $65,000 for each person involved in a crash.

Car accidents, whether fatal or resulting in injury, take a toll on everyone involved. Those who survive DUI or speeding car accidents but are seriously injured often find that their lives will never be the same again. They are not only faced with financial problems but also physical and emotional damages and scars. An article on the website of injury lawyer Joe Miller Law, Ltd., suggests that if this happens to you, it is important to document what you can at the scene of the accident, including taking down statements and taking photos. These will be all-important if you ever file a personal injury claim. If the at-fault driver is proven to have been negligent through DUI or reckless driving, you should contact a competent injury lawyer to get the compensation due to you as a victim.

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Assigning Fault in Bicycle Accidents

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Bicycle Accidents, Personal Injury | 0 comments

It can be both difficult and frustrating to bring an action against a negligent motorist in North Carolina and Virginia. The laws in both Virginia and North Carolina are more restrictive than most other states to the plaintiffs, mostly because they are states that make use of the pure contributory negligence rule when determining if a plaintiff is or is not eligible for compensatory damages in cases of bicycle accidents.

Much like pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents can happen out of the blue, and even if a car is not speeding, the damage can be devastating. According to the website of injury law firm Joe Miller Law, Ltd., the average number of people admitted for injuries due to bicycle accidents in the US a year is 500,000, and that is 2010, 618 people died. It is entirely possible that some bicycle accidents are partly the fault of the bicyclist, but in most cases the driver is mostly responsible. However, mostly responsible will not cut it.

Under the pure contributory negligence rule, if the plaintiff is in any way responsible for the accident, even to the smallest degree (1%), recovery of damages will not be happen. The laws in Virginia and North Carolina require that the plaintiff is completely fault-free, something that can be difficult to prove without the proper documentation such as witness accounts and maybe closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage if available.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but only an experienced lawyer can navigate the complex shoals of the tort claim legal process in Virginia and North Carolina. If you have sustained injuries or a family member died as a result of a bicycle accident, don’t attempt to file the case on your own. Have competent legal representation on your side; there are usually no up front fees for the good lawyers in the area, and the contingent fee is normally 20% of the award.

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Computing Virginia Workers’ Compensation

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury | 0 comments

When you get injured on the job through an accident or from other work-related reason and you are incapable of going back to work immediately, it can make it hard to make ends meet. That is why the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) was formed to oversee the ordering and dispensing of benefits for injured workers. However, it may not be a simple matter at all, especially in Virginia.

According to the website of injury lawyer Joe Miller Law, Ltd., Virginia is particularly employer-friendly, and any claims made to the VWC for workers, whether for workers’ compensation or personal injury tends to be favorable to the employer. In fact, under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, the employer is immune from personal injury claims except in rare cases when an employee receives workers’ compensation benefits. There are also many pitfalls and rules that can derail a claim before it can even get started. It is therefore important that any VWC claim is handled by a lawyer who has a deep knowledge and wide experience with the laws governing workers’ compensation.

When it comes to workers’ compensation, Virginia puts a limit to how long (500 weeks) that an employee can claim benefits except in cases of total and permanent disability which will keep the injured worker from returning to work at all. These benefits, most particularly the weekly payments are computed based on the worker’s earning capacity within the previous 52 weeks, and is typically 66 2/3 %, not exceeding 100% and not lower than 25%. Exceptions are made for AmeriCorps members and Food Stamp Employment and Training Program participants, which are not eligible for workers’ compensation at all. More recently, maritime employees are also barred from claiming workers’ compensation from the VWC.

Again, the process is not as simple as it seems. There are certain conditions under which a worker can claim more benefits under the VWC, under another federal or state program, or through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Computing for the maximum compensation an injured worker in Virginia requires extensive knowledge about workers’ compensation laws. Since reputable injury law firms require no upfront fees and pass through the VWC to approve contingent fees, an injured worker will have nothing to lose and everything to gain by engaging a good lawyer to file for VWC claims.

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Pure Contributory Negligence and Pedestrian Accidents

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Car Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Personal Injury | 0 comments

It is entirely possible that a person who goes out to buy bread may end up injured or dead because of the negligence of others. Many motorists fail to observe the speed limit, protocol at intersections, stop and yield traffic signs, and crosswalks. It only takes one instance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for life to take a wrong turn. As stated in injury law firm website Joe Miller Law, Ltd., some drivers were not even aware of you until the moment of impact, although this does not mean that the driver cannot be held liable.

In most states, a modified form of comparative negligence is observed in pedestrian accidents. This means that a pedestrian who is injured or dies as a result of a third party’s negligence at the wheel may file a personal injury or wrongful death suit (by a qualified relative) even if he or she is partly to blame as long as it is not more than 50 or 51 percent, depending on the state. Virginia and North, however, are two of the 5 states that use the pure contributory negligence rule in pedestrian accidents. This means that if the pedestrian is partly to blame i.e. not using a crosswalk even to the smallest degree, a civil tort claim will not be allowed and no awards will be forthcoming.

This may seem a little harsh, but that is the law in North Carolina and Virginia. However, there are exceptions to this rule such as the last, clear chance doctrine, and the process of filing a personal injury case for pedestrian accidents in general can be a difficult and complex process. This is especially true for Virginia and North Carolina where the burden of proof against the defendant is not on the plaintiff, but it has to be proven that the defendant was wholly responsible. This can be next to impossible without the assistance of aggressive and experienced legal representation conversant with the laws of both Virginia and North Carolina.

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Virginia Maritime Workers Must Claim from the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury | 0 comments

An interesting article on the website of injury lawyer Joe Miller Law, Ltd., discussed a recent development closely concerning persons who are injured while on the job. As of July 2012, persons engaged in maritime work, including longshoremen, dock workers, port or harbor clerks and checkers, forklift operators—in short, anyone working within navigable waters or employed in work connected with ships, shipbuilding, water transport or delivery may no longer put in a claim under Virginia’s workers’ compensation program but only under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). In the article, the advantages of claiming under LHWCA rather than workers’ compensation in Virginia were enumerated, and it is undoubtedly an improvement.

However, it must be remembered that the statute of limitations for making an LHWCA claim is one year instead of the two under workers’ comp, and that the LHWCA is a federal, not a state, program. As such, it would be imperative to have the right kind of legal assistance and aid to ensure that a claim is carried out successfully. Making any kind of claim with the federal government can be a tedious and complex task that few lay people can accomplish on their own, especially if the injury sustained resulted in a long hospital stay, disability, or death. Gathering together the documents needed not only for making an LHWCA claim and a possible tort claim against the employer, if applicable. As pointed out in the abovementioned article, employers and general contractors have no immunity against a civil action for people who make an LHWCA claim.

If you are unfortunate enough to need to make an LHWCA claim and perhaps file a personal injury suit, choose a lawyer with a thorough knowledge and extensive experience in handling cases involving maritime law as well as personal injury cases in your state.

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